Friday, 29 May 2009

what do jaded gamers look forward to?

I became a hobby gamer in around 2003-2004. My addiction to started at that time too. Having been buying games, reading about games and playing games so much for the past 5 years, I sometimes find myself a little jaded, a little tired of recurring themes in games, recurring game mechanics, recurring arguments and complaints at BGG, recurring inside jokes. Quite often when I read game reviews, I just skip to the conclusion paragraph. If it sounds interesting, I go back to start at the beginning. Maybe it's information overload.

Many games get published every year, and there is a lot of information on the internet about them. However I find that it is becoming rarer and rarer that a new game would interest me. Sometimes just looking at a few pictures of a game and reading a few comments of it are enough to turn me off the game. I can't even muster the will to read a review. Don't even talk about going through the rules (which many game publishers now post onto the internet - a good thing). I'm probably being completely unfair to these games, not giving them a chance at all. Games like Royal Palace, Stone Age, Diamonds Club, A Castle for all Seasons, Finca. These are all mostly getting positive reviews, but I simply can't muster much interest. I probably sound like a Euro-bashing Ameritrasher. Even with new Ameritrash games, there aren't many that interest me either, and I don't name them here because I don't even remember their names.

Being picky about games is good for my wallet. However, despite this so-called jadedness, I still have a lot of games on my watchlist, and I don't think I will be able to meet my (probably too unrealistic) target of buying only 12 games in 2009. I'm already at 10 games bought. Maybe 20 is a more realistic target. Games that interest me usually satisfy one of these conditions:

  1. ... has something unique - a mechanic, a theme, etc. Space Alert is a real-time and cooperative game. Tales of the Arabian Nights, a game where you build a story. Somehow, I don't really have a Friedemann Friese game hot on my watchlist at the moment, although he's famous for quirky themes. I do have Fauna in the lukewarm section of my watchlist, and, pardon my snobbishness, it was there before it got the Spiel des Jahres nomination.
  2. ... is an expansion of a game I like. Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium, 2nd expansion to my most played game. Keltis expansion - the one with the alternate board. There are many spin-offs of the Keltis brand, Reiner Knizia's first SdJ-winning game. Galaxy Trucker expansion. Tribune expansion. Pandemic: On the Brink.
  3. ... is by a designer I like, and is of a type of game that I like. Automobile by Martin Wallace, which the designer himself likes a lot. However somehow his After the Flood and Waterloo do not interest me much. Le Havre by Uwe Rosenberg of Agricola fame, which I have already bought. I'm also watching his upcoming Gates of Loyang.
  4. ... is something new to me. I'm thinking of getting into some simpler wargames, thus Conflict of Heroes. I have played two block wargames (admittedly probably at the easier end of the spectrum), Hammer of the Scots and Crusader Rex. Should I try Rommel in the Desert?

Chicago Express is a game that I'm interested in but can't quite categorise. It's sounds interesting to me, in that the rules are simple but their interaction is complex. This is a game that's quick but the decisions are tough.

I wonder how long these games will last until they gradually drop to the lukewarm or cold sections of my watchlist. My watchlist has more than 130 games, because I rarely delete games from it. They just gradually get downgraded. It's good to hold off buying games, because sometimes after waiting half a year or more, some games will become less interesting compared to when I first heard of them, and they will be downgraded. Less games to buy. Money saved. Newer games also tend to push older games down the list. So it's good to procrastinate.

Umm... I hope I'm not making anyone's wallet bleed more than it should by naming so many games here...


Cecrow said...

Re simpler wargame, have you played or looked into "Memoir 44"? I'm a long-time A&A fan and I fell in love with Memoir straightaway. Easy rules, short scenarios, endless expansions once you're hooked. Sort of like 'A&A Battle of the Bulge' but even easier (definitely shorter), and with virtually endless variety.
Not that it looks like you needed any more game-buying ideas .... lol

If you're a Lord of the Rings fan at all, 'War of the Ring' is a very unique and well designed game; I'd dare say you probably haven't anything quite like it. It only looks like a typical wargame on the surface - but that's exactly the sort of misperception that can make you lose.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Hey I'm supposed to be trying to control my game buying here... :-)

I have tried both Memoir 44 and War of the Ring. I've played Memoir 44 I think 3 or 4 times, and thought it was just OK (maybe because my wife beat me at it three times in a row). I've tried Battlelore once too, and they felt quite similar to me. I haven't tried Command and Colours Ancients though.

I have played War of the Ring just once. Indeed the battle dice is quite unique. I found the overall game to be just OK and didn't feel the need to own it. Wouldn't mind playing again. My only play was quite some time ago.

Aik Yong said...

Hiew, Chicago Express is good and I can heartily recommend it. It is also a good and extremely basic introduction to the 18xx train game.

Eurogamers at one point or another can find systems repeating itself, or find the patterns even in the most complex of euros. I have reach that point myself and here are my few remedies:

1) super complex euros - like Le Harve. The interactions are quite numerous to the point where it is difficult to 'solve' the game with an optimum strategy.

2) wargames - as you mentioned, more complexity means more complicated interactions and the theme helps. do yourself a favor and steer away from ASLSK for intro wargames. I have ASLSK#2 and even after someone taught me the basics, I am still floundering.

Try to find Target Arnhem (Out of Print!) by MMP or one of the simpler ones from Victory Point Games I haven't played the games from VP games that I have bought but the rules read simple enough.

3) games with metagaming - sometimes simple games can have complex social interactions and it is interesting to 'game' people and their social tendencies. I'm refering to games like Bang! and Battlestar Galactica in this context where player interactions and mannerisms are subtle hints to their purposes.

I consider games like Imperial to fall into this category as well, as the alliances and negotiations are as much a part of the game as optimising finances and manuvering armies.

4) There is also the 18XX series which I consider a sort of cross between the theme of wargames and the optimisation of heavy-euros. I was surprised to find prominent gamers like Scott Nicholson who is hooked on this genre of games. I find the interactions to be suitably complicated and I find myself fudging my decisions more often than not.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Thanks Aik Yong for the tips! Is Le Havre really that complex? I have ordered it and it's on the way, but it didn't seem to be any more complex than Caylus or Agricola from reading the rules.

I just started watching Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica, and it stirred my interest in playing the game again, which I have only played once before. The TV series start quite well and I am enjoying it so far. Hopefully it will stay this good. Else I may not be able to finish it.

Aik Yong said...

oops, i posted this reply before i realise you've played Hammer of the scots, Crusader rex and Hannibal: rome vs carthage. Perhaps it's time to do twilight Struggle?

Aik Yong said...

Le Harve I like to put it this way:
Have wood, cloth, food, stone and gold as resources? That’s so Caylus. Let’s throw in wood, charcoal, fish, smoked fish, coal, coke, cattle, beef, hide, leather, iron, steel, grain, bread, clay and brick just to mix it up. That's Le Harve.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Aik Yong,
Thanks re: illustration on Le Havre. I better brace myself before my first game. :-)

I have played Twilight Struggle twice. It's quite interesting, but needs more plays to appreciate it better.

Han said...

War of the Ring and Twilight Struggle are two of my favourite game but Hiew didn't enjoy them that much because he only played them once and hardly got time to get familiar with them.

I am the AT gamer in our small gaming group, with Hiew buying all the Euros, i hardly need to buy them except certian hyped game such as RftG (I much prefer Glory for Rome), Dominion, Agricola ...

I am planning a game of "Civilisation" when you are back in KK, see how many players we can get (at least 3 including Chong Sean) and maybe split it into 2 or 3 sessions, how's that for the jaded gamer?

Hiew Chok Sien said...


I'm ON for Civilisation!

I was lukewarm on War of the Ring, but indeed I am not really familiar with the game yet. However I'm still interested in Twilight Struggle. That really needs more plays. Do you have it in KK? I'm interested to try that again.

Han said...

Yes. TS is here in KK. I have played mostly US so far because mostly against new player (played against chong Sean once), my "Late War" cards were hardly touched since the game are usually won before that; knowing what card is in the deck is a huge advantage.

We can try 3-player WotR too.

Steven said...

Thanks for the great ideas. I have been a jaded gamer and only recently got back into the spirit of board games by a post I found at Pandalous. As Cecrow brought up, I love Memoir 44 and I think I'm going to try War of the Ring this weekend. I'm looking forward to my triumphant return to the game world!